The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept was developed and implemented by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985. They recognized that residents would very likely be on their own during the early stages of a disaster.
Accordingly, they decided some basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of residents to survive until responders or other assistance could arrive. Their training program proved to be so beneficial, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency felt that the concept and the program should be made available to communities nationwide.
On a local level, the Charleston County Emergency Management Division (CCEMD) assists local and dedicated groups of community members in this training.
CERT teams can be comprised of neighbors, fellow employees within an industry, schools, church groups, civic organizations, etc. To qualify as a neighborhood team, at least three members from a designated area or organization need to participate in and complete the training program.
This course is recommended for any group interested in learning basic skills that are important to know in a disaster when emergency services are not available. This training will provide the participant with valuable skills needed to survive in a disaster or other life-threatening emergency.
Topics to be covered include disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue skills; as well as disaster psychology and teamwork.
Local government prepares for everyday emergencies. However, during a disaster, the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is an all-risk, all-hazard training. This valuable course is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and your neighborhood in an emergency situation.
CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens may initially be on their own and their actions can make a difference. While people will respond to others in need without the training, one goal of the CERT program is to help them do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger. In the CERT training, citizens learn to:
The idea to train volunteers from the community to assist emergency service personnel during large natural disasters began in February of 1985 when a group of Los Angeles city officials went to Japan to study its extensive earthquake preparedness plans. The group encountered an extremely homogenous society that had taken extensive steps to train entire neighborhoods in one aspect of alleviating the potential devastation that would follow a major earthquake. These single-function neighborhood teams were trained in either fire suppression, light search and rescue operations, first aid or evacuation.
In September of 1985, a Los Angeles city investigation team was sent to Mexico City following an earthquake that registered a magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale, killed more than 10,000 people and injured more than 30,000. Mexico City had no training program for citizens prior to the disaster. However, large groups of volunteers organized themselves and performed light search and rescue operations. Volunteers are credited with more than 800 successful rescues; unfortunately, more than 100 of these untrained volunteers died during the 15-day rescue operation.
The lessons learned in Mexico City strongly indicated that a plan to train volunteers to help themselves and others, and become an adjunct to government response, was needed as an essential part of overall preparedness, survival and recovery.
The City of Los Angeles Fire Department developed a pilot program to train a group of leaders in a neighborhood watch organization. A concept developed involving multi-functional volunteer response teams with the ability to perform basic fire suppression, light search and rescue, and first aid. This first team of 30 people completed training in early 1986 and proved that the concept was viable through various drills, demonstrations and exercises. Expansion of the program, however, was not feasible due to limited city resources, until an event occurred in 1987 that impacted the entire area.
1987On Oct. 1, 1987, the Whittier Narrows earthquake vividly underscored the threat of an area-wide major disaster, and demonstrated the need to expedite the training of civilians to prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies.
Following the Whittier Narrows earthquake, the City of Los Angeles took an aggressive role in protecting the citizens of Los Angeles by creating the Disaster Preparedness Division (now the Disaster Preparedness Unit) within the Los Angeles City Fire Department. Their objectives included:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency decided to make the concept and program available to communities nationwide. The Emergency Management Institute, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Fire Department, expanded the CERT materials to make them applicable to all hazards.
In January 2002, CERT became part of the Citizen Corps, a unifying structure to link a variety of related volunteer activities to expand a community's resources for crime prevention and emergency response.
Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division completed its first two CERT classes in September. As of July 2003, 48 states and six foreign countries are using the CERT training.
As of May 2006, Charleston County has over 300 CERT Members, on seventeen response teams, in thirteen districts. November 2006, formed "Lowcountry CERT " .Incorporated non-profit. Serving the tri-county area.
Well, it's like paying for car insurance. You might never need either; you'd hope not to. But if the occasion arises, having the CERT training, just like having car insurance, means you're as ready as you can be to help yourself, your family and your neighborhood.
For those interested in the CERT training program, you will be required to complete IS-100, Introduction to Incident Command and IS-700 National Incident Management System (NIMS), An Introduction. Both are on-line independent study courses offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Management Institute. These courses must be completed prior to attending the course.
It is also highly recommended but not required that you complete the Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams course. The course can serve as either an introduction to those wanting to join a Community Emergency Response Teams or as a refresher to current team members.
CERT training is provided through a 30-hour course conducted over an eight-week period. Upon completion of the course, participants are presented with response equipment and a certificate identifying them as a CERT member.
To participate in the training course or learn more about CERT, contact Will Rochester at (843)746-3804 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please Note: A minimum of 15 people are required for each class. Always call the class contact person the day before or the day of the class to ensure there have been no changes. CERT is provided free of charge within Charleston County to anyone 18 or over.
To register for a class, to verify the date, time and location of the class, contact Brock Clary, Charleston County Emergency Management Department at (843)746-3804 or email email@example.com.
Week 1 - Introduction, Disaster Management
Week 2 - Fire Safety
Week 3 - Disaster Medical Operations, Part 1
Week 4 - Disaster Medical Operations, Part 2
Week 5 - Light Search and Rescue Operations
Week 6 - CERT Organization/Incident Command IS-100/IS-700
Week 7 - Terrorism and CERT & Disaster Psychology
Week 8 - Course Review & Practical Disaster Exercise
Those who complete the CERT training are expected to:
Non-Discrimination Policy: The Charleston County CERT Training only conducts non-discriminatory classes. Non-discrimination includes race, religion, gender and group affiliations.
The Emergency Management Department (EMD) of Charleston County has designated a volunteer to manage its amateur radio program under the S.C. Emergency Management Department's ARES Program.
Charleston County has authorized the group to enroll Hams to be trained to back up the department's 800 MHz radio system with 40-meter support to emergency management agencies for passing health and welfare traffic. Radio support may be provided for CERT members and their families, the Charleston County Emergency Operations Center and shelter operations.
If you are a licensed amateur radio operator who desires to serve the community, contact either:
Charleston County EMD Amateur Radio Volunteer Coordinator
The 2-meter Repeater frequency is 147.300 +600 with no PL.
Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division would like to introduce a new program in association with the CERT Program, designed to assist pets and livestock in our community during disasters or emergencies.
The Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) is being created to assist before, during and after a disaster or emergencies. DART will be used to assist in Pet Friendly shelters, like the Hurricane Pet Shelter in Charleston County at the Coliseum in North Charleston. It is hoped that we will eventually be able to open similar Pet Shelters in Berkeley and Dorchester Counties. As well as possible response to large scale incidents to assist other SPCA's and Animal Control Officials to events similar to what occurred in Graniteville, SC this past year or repatriation missions held at the Charleston International Airport.
If you are interested in participating in the DART program you must have completed the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course.
The training will consist of FEMA Individual Study Courses, and 3 classes taught one night a week over three weeks.
If this sounds like something you may be interested in participating in, please contact Brock Clary via the email or phone number below.
Charleston County Emergency Management
8500 Palmetto Commerce Parkway
North Charleston, SC 29456
Home Study Courses:
IS 10 & 11 Animals in Disasters an awareness Module A&B
IS 111 (if wanting to assist with Livestock and have live stock experience)
Available on-line at: http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp
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